By Owen Daugherty, NASFAA Staff Reporter
For Kathy Bialk, financial aid is more than just a job. For the more than 30 years that she has been in the profession, Bialk has immersed herself in the industry, earning 16 of the 17 NASFAA Professional Credentials and taking the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam — adding to her list of achievements during her long career in financial aid.
As the executive director for the University of Kentucky's Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, Bialk said completing the certification knowledge exam was important as a way to continue her professional development and validate the knowledge of financial aid she had already learned.
"In my view, the exam provides an even more trusted measure of professional credibility to our institutions, the government, and the public," she said.
Bialk officially started in her role as the new Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Commission Chair on July 1, a position she believes will allow her to raise awareness of the benefits of becoming certified and the opportunities it offers.
She said completing the certification requirements and passing the knowledge exam gave her a shot of confidence, as it reinforced her knowledge of financial aid administration and practice.
"I want to be an example for my staff and other financial aid professionals by encouraging them to take the time to participate in professional development opportunities, to earn NASFAA Professional Credentials, and to ultimately earn the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® designation," Bialk said.
Additionally, Bialk highlighted the integrity that advanced training and qualifications bring to the profession.
"Our work is important and noble," she said. "We must not only work toward preserving our profession's integrity, but its sustainability."
While Bialk looks forward to the day when she can once again attend in-person training events and mingle with others in the profession, she has supplemented that activity by regularly viewing NASFAA's online webinars both live and on-demand, and earning recertification points in the process.
"There is nothing better than the engaging experience you receive and give when you are together, in-person, with your colleagues learning and sharing," she said.
For those new to the profession, Bialk said the chance for them to participate in training and professional development opportunities is invaluable, noting the importance of volunteering or taking on new duties to expand their financial aid experience.
And for those not new to the profession but debating whether to take the test, Bialk had one piece of advice: "Do not fear the exam!"
"Challenge yourself to become part of a community of achievement and accomplishment," she said. "I encourage you to do it for yourself, our students, your institution, and the financial aid community."
Publication Date: 7/14/2020